Officially, the big news from Microsoft’s BUILD conference in San Francisco is the release of a preview version of Windows 8. But I’m at least as interested in another nugget from the show: Microsoft is (briefly) showing off a version of PowerPoint which uses the new Windows 8 interface and saying it plans to have new-style Word, Excel and PowerPoint versions ready some time in 2014.
As ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley reports:
Delivering the Gemini Office applications months after Windows 8.1 is released seems to me more like something the old Microsoft rather than the new, more nimble Microsoft, would do. If Microsoft officials are not simply underpromising and actually planning to “overdeliver” by getting these apps into the Windows Store in 2013, the Office team won’t have these new apps ready in time for holiday 2013 — which may or may not matter in the grand, selling scheme.
I’m looking forward to the new versions, whenever they show up, and I get that making four of the planet’s most-used, most venerable, most feature-laden applications work well with a brand-new interface is no cakewalk. Still, I can’t help but wonder: Would it have helped Windows 8 get off to a better start if an irresistible new version of Office designed for it had shipped alongside the operating system back in October 2012?